Open address by Pavel Latushka, head of the National Anti-Crisis Management to UN Secretary General António Guterres.
On 18 May 2022, the so-called Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations handed you a letter from the dictator and war criminal Lukashenko.
As head of the National Anti-Crisis Management and member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council of Belarus — the internationally recognised structures of the Belarusian democratic forces — I cannot let this fact go unnoticed.
I am appealing to you personally and publicly — so that I can be heard by you, Your Excellency, Ukrainians, Belarusians and our international partners. After all, today all of us, albeit to a different extent, are victims not only of the lies and manipulations of the Lukashenko regime, but also of its concrete criminal actions, which we simply have no right to turn a blind eye to.
Nor do we have the right to allow another lie by the Lukashenko regime to give him even the slightest opportunity to escape responsibility. And all the more so to find support in the leadership of the most respected international organisation — the United Nations.
Trying to present himself as a supporter of peace and denying his own involvement in the aggression against Ukraine, Lukashenko declares in his letter: “Today the world forgets that the Belarusians have never been a threat to any of its neighbours. <…> We are not aggressors, as some states try to present us. Belarus has never initiated any wars or conflicts. He writes you that “Belarus sincerely and steadfastly remains committed to the task of reconciliation as soon as possible”.
However, these words encapsulate yet another attempt by the dictator to manipulate the facts by distorting reality. This is precisely why the democratic forces in Belarus have been calling for the people of Belarus to be separated from the criminal Lukashenko regime since the beginning of the war.
Yes, Belarusians do stand for peace and against the war. A war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine with the full assistance of the Lukashenko regime, a pro-Kremlin puppet regime which allowed Russia to occupy Belarus, turned it into a bridgehead for an attack on Ukraine and provided this attack with all the necessary logistical and infrastructural support.
And it continues to perform these functions to this day. Neither missile nor air strikes on Ukrainian territory from the territory of Belarus have ceased. Furthermore, there are more and more statements from the Ukrainian side about the involvement of the Belarusian SDF in ground operations, including the “Buchan massacre”. And also about Belarusian mercenaries who have signed contracts with Russian PMCs.
We do not know for sure how many Belarusian military personnel fighting on Russia’s side we can talk about. But we do know for sure about more than 630 missiles fired at Ukraine from the territory of Belarus. We know exactly from which Belarusian airfields air strikes are carried out against Ukraine. And we know for sure that without Lukashenko’s help all those nightmarish atrocities would not have happened in Bucha, Irpen, Gostomel and Borodianka — because it was from the territory of Belarus that the troops that took part in the siege of Kyiv region entered Ukraine. I should also remind you that Lukashenko himself publicly denies these events, calling them “a fake” and a “psychological special operation. But we do know the facts.
And we also know for sure that the absolute majority of Belarusians are against the war. We know for sure that thousands of Belarusians have become volunteers, who fight for Ukraine and pay with their lives for its freedom today and for the freedom of Belarus tomorrow.
We know that Belarusians are against aggression, against occupation, against the presence of Russian troops, military bases and missile systems in our country. Belarusians are against the dictatorship of Lukashenko’s regime, with whose consent and participation our country has become a co-aggressor in the war with our brotherly Ukraine.
And for each of these “against” more than 1,500 Belarusians have been detained and repressed since the beginning of the war. More than 60 Belarusians were detained for active resistance to the war.
Some of them were shot in the knees after detention.
So who represses Belarusians for their anti-war stance and protests? Who gives orders to shoot them in the knees for daring to oppose the war?
- The one who stole the elections from the Belarusians on 9 August 2020 and who has not stopped mass repression, arrests, torture and even murder for a single day since then.
- He, because of whom more than 1200 officially recognised political prisoners are in Belarusian prisons today — but in reality this figure is much higher and it is growing every day.
- The one who on 23 May 2021 committed an act of state-sponsored air piracy by forcing a Ryanair plane to land in Minsk and taking 2 hostages.
- The one who unleashed hybrid aggression against the European Union, setting up an artificial months-long migration crisis on the borders with Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine.
- The one who has personally confessed that on February 23, 2022 the first missile strike was launched exactly from the territory of Belarus, 6 hours before the beginning of the war, on the territory of Ukraine.
- And finally, the one who on May 8, 2022 wrote you a lying and hypocritical letter to the last letter, the sole purpose of which was to avoid sanctions and responsibility for all his crimes.
Yes, it’s all one man. Alexander Lukashenko. A dictator and a murderer, a puppet of the Kremlin and a war criminal.
And I am sure that you understand very well: the hands that have written you this letter are up to their elbows in blood — both of Belarusians and Ukrainians. So you cannot fail to understand that the decision to lift even part of the sanctions imposed on the Lukashenko regime for massive human rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes, which it has committed and will continue to commit while in power, is a betrayal of the Belarusian and Ukrainian peoples, a betrayal of the ideals of democracy and regional security interests, it is condoning all its crimes and military aggression.
Lukashenko writes to you that “Perhaps this is the moment of truth for the UN, for which we have cherished and developed this organisation for almost 8 decades”. And this is the only thing I can agree with him on. It really is the moment of truth and a chance for the leadership of the United Nations to take a principled stand towards war criminals and make real efforts to stop them once and for all.